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Posted: July 3, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Flying solo

16-year-old completes first flight alone, has soaring aspirations

Submitted photo/

Chris' grandfather Joe Waters, left, father Mike Waters and Barry Zuckerman congratulate Chris after his shirt was cut traditionally after his first solo flight.

Chris Waters 16, a local student at Eastside High School, just completed his first solo flight on Tuesday. Waters has been training and working for this day all year long with his instructor Bill Leppert from Ocean Isle, N.C.

This young pilot is working toward obtaining his license; he must be 17 to apply for the license. Before earning his license; however, he must log 40 flying hours, two solo trips across country and perform several night flights. Waters has already set up his first solo cross-country flight for this October.

Flying any aircraft has been a dream of Waters’ since he was young.

"He has always wanted to fly, since about the age of 5," explained Chris’ mother, Priscilla Waters. Chris started by flying remote control airplanes, and when he lost interest, he knew he was ready for the big planes.

Since April 2008 Chris has been working with Leppert and has logged about 25 flying hours in a Piper Cherokee 140 aircraft. This is a smaller plane, not meant to carry passengers, but can seat up to five individuals.

Waters has been flying all around the area in the past year. He has flown in and out of the Covington, Monroe and Madison airports. Tuesday Chris flew out of the Monroe airport for the first time by himself. He stated that the only thing running through his mind was "do not crash."

After high school Chris plans to attend, the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and ultimately join the Navy as a pilot.

Being very adventurous from a young age, Waters explains that anyone interested in flying should "not hold back."

Although Waters’ instructor is from out of town, Leppert has expressed to the Waters family that he would be willing to work with anyone who is as dedicated to flying as Waters is.

Anyone interested in flying lessons or more information may call Leppert at (843) 437-7731.

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